“The good news of the kingdom of God…”
“Thy kingdom come…”
When Jesus taught the people of his day, he often invoked the term “the kingdom of God”, or as it’s used in the gospel of Matthew, “the kingdom of heaven”. What does this phrase mean?
I’ve heard many explanations, but the most common ones are that this is a picture of what heaven will be like someday or that these are the qualifications one must meet to get to heaven. However, I think there is an additional explanation; that the kingdom Jesus spoke of was right here and now. Here’s how Jesus explained it:
Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘here it is,’ or ‘there it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17: 20-21)
The kingdom is here now! Jesus wasn’t just pointing his followers to some future time or place; he wanted them to live into the reality of the kingdom in their daily lives! Take a moment to look at the words of Jesus from that point of view and think about what Jesus is trying to tell us.
For example, in many churches we pray the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6 every Sunday. When we pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, how can we understand that from the perspective of the kingdom being right here? To me, it means that the way we live our lives should bring a little bit of heaven to the here and now as we act and react in our daily lives in ways that are consistent with what we know of God’s character.
Additionally, in the prior chapter, Matthew 5, Jesus gives us the character qualities that are foundational to living that kind of life; hungering for righteousness, being merciful, pure in heart, and committed to peace. As these character qualities are developed and cultivated daily in our hearts and in our actions, we are making the kingdom of God visible to those around us.
Living a kingdom life will set us apart. That’s what Jesus intended and it will get attention. When we love when others would hate, we’re making the kingdom of God visible. When we speak up and defend the powerless when others would be silent, we’re making the kingdom of God visible. When we try to help the poor when others are just looking out for themselves, we’re making the kingdom of God visible.
Take some time to look through the Gospels for that phrase, especially in the parables of Jesus, and think through what they can mean to you in light of the “kingdom” being right now. Does it come alive in a different way than before? Does it call you to change anything in your life? If our task as Christians is to build up the kingdom of God right here, then we need to experience it first in our own hearts and minds and then live it out for the world to see.
God bless you, and thanks for listening to Life 97.9!
Yours in Christ,
Life 97.9 Station Manager